Fully provisioned, the time had finally come to commence our journey. Now, there are moments in one's life that are undeniably significant and profound; graduating from college; wedding day; the birth of one's children. All well and good if you like that sort of thing. For me, it was the first starting of my diesel engine. Never being certain when one steps aboard a boat if anything is going to work, I was wildly ecstatic when I pressed the ignition and the engine snapped crisply into operation. I sat there behind the wheel with a big smile listening to the clunking. People talk about how peaceful it is listening to birds sing, they obviously have never had the pleasure of sitting on top of a 1 cylinder diesel engine. So, despite the threatening clouds and occasional rain drops, I was ready to shove off. But where was Evie?
Evie had seemed a little apprehensive about the trip, and questioned the sea-worthiness of the boat. She wanted to know why it was leaning. I told her it was called listing, and all boats do that in this kind of weather. I then showed her a new roll of duct tape and tubes of silicone caulk and reassured her that I was prepared for any eventuality. But as I turned my attention to the engine, Evie disappeared. I figured she went to thank the mechanic for giving us such a good deal. Evie was like that, seeing the good in people; I still had a nose-bleed from receiving the bill.
So while the engine was warming up I went to look for Evie. I knocked on the ladies' bathroom door, no answer, thank God, I'm uncomfortable around ladies' rooms.
I then approached the mechanic, "I seem to have lost my girlfriend..." I said.
"Try eharmony," he responded with flat affect. Such a wry little man, I made a mental note never to do business with people who floss with jib sheets.
I finally found Evie, sitting in the truck, with her life jacket on. I tapped on the window, "the engine is running and its time to leave," I shouted with cheerful enthusiasm.
Evie stared straight ahead with her big moist eyes, "its lightening," she exclaimed. I explained, through a closed window, that lightening never strikes boats, after all, they keep boats outside don't they? And they would'nt keep boats outside if there was any danger of being struck by lightening...would they?
Evie acquiesced; she trusted my judgement. It made sense, as I had been sailing for weeks, and she was just a beginner. As a neighbor cast off our dock lines, Evie curled up in the cabin wearing two life jackets, and I took my place behind the wheel. Our northerly course would take us the entire length of Cayuga Lake, about forty miles. At seven miles per hour, I prayed we would get there before dark, or I'm certain Evie would have a child. Lightening danced among the distant hills of the Finger Lakes country, but had thus far graciously avoided the elderly sloop. I tried to assuage Evie's trepidation by making funny faces and singing stupid songs. The engine clunked on, strong and steady, any variation in the sound would have elicited an immediate cadiac arrest.
At one point Evie's head emerged from the companionway, "its really loud," she yelled.
"Yes," I responded, "I see the clouds."
These short exchanges seemed to have a calming affect on Evie, as her troubled countenance segued into one of puzzlement. "I have to use the head," she shouted.
"Oh, I'm sorry," I sympathized, "take an aspirin." Evie climbed into the cockpit and explained that she had to go to the bathroom. Now it was my turn to panic, I had no idea how to use a marine head. In response to my unintelligent question, she intimated that she could not, and would not, wait four hours. Relinquishing command of the vessel to Evie, I went below to figure out how to operate the head. I had no idea how loud it was in the cabin, why had she not mentioned that?